The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
Will the US Back Real Democracy in Egypt?
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Last Monday, Egyptians celebrated the first anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the 30-year Mubarak regime.

By contrast, America’s reaction this historic event was tellingly muted.

Egypt contains a quarter of the Arab world’s people. In Egypt, the US had a golden opportunity to encourage genuine democracy. Instead, it long opposed demands by Egyptians for real democracy and an end to Mubarak’s police state.

Egyptians know this. I recently stood among crowds of demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, watching growing anger against the United States.

In the recent elections, Egypt’s venerable Muslim Brotherhood won some 48% of the parliamentary vote, confirming it as the primary voice of 81 million Egyptians. In North America, the Brotherhood has long been wrongly branded an extremist, even terrorist organization by partisans of Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood is primarily composed of middle class, middle-aged doctors, engineers, lawyers. It is seriously stodgy and conservative. Many younger Egyptians derided it as “your grandfather’s party.” It sits squarely in the middle of Egypt’s political spectrum.

The Brotherhood’s political arm, its new Freedom and Justice Party, was patterned on Turkey’s highly successful, Islamic-lite AK Party of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Like Turkey’s AK, the Muslim Brotherhood is primarily concerned with fighting corruption, education, health and welfare – areas badly neglected by the former regime.

So far, the Brotherhood has not challenged the United States or Europe except for calling for justice for the Palestinians. But this, of course, was the primary reason why the US kept dictator Husni Mubarak in power for thirty years: he secretly colluded with Israel, and opposed US foes Iran and Syria.

Interestingly, the Brotherhood has been in close contact with Egypt’s military to work out a power-sharing deal. An accord between the two power centers is possible, provided the military ends its repression and cedes some important powers to parliament.

Egypt’s fundamentalist Salafists won a quarter of the seats in the new assembly. Relying on rural support, the Salafists want the nation run under Koranic Sharia law, a view opposed by most urban Egyptians and the nations nine million Coptic Christians.

The Salafists and their Nour Party are also focused on local issues. They may be unable to compromise with the more moderate Brotherhood, and even become antagonistic.

The rest of the seats were won by the venerable, liberal Wafd Party, and some young, western-oriented independents. Their influence will be minimal.

Egypt’s new parliament must now face the difficult task of naming a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution to then be validated by a national referendum.

Even if parliament achieves this goal, it will then confront Egypt’s 500,000-man military and equally numerous internal security forces. So far, Egypt’s military, which is financed, armed and sustained by Washington, threw dictator Mubarak to the wolves to appease popular anger but has barely given an inch on other key issues.

A year after the Tahrir Square revolution, Egypt remains a brutal police state where regime critics disappear, are tortured, and jailed in the thousands. The old guard still control much of the nation’s media, academia, courts and industry: Mubarakism without Mubarak.

The US-backed generals own between a third and two thirds of Egypt’s key businesses or real estate and enjoy lavish perks.

The military’s senior military officers have been trained by the US, vetted by CIA, and are joined at the hip to the Pentagon in much the same manner as were Latin America’s generals in the 60’s and 70’s.

Washington gives Egypt’s military $1.3 billion annually, controls its flow of weapons and spare parts, and provides tens of millions in “black payments” to the military, security forces, and intelligence service, the “Mukhabarat.”

Accordingly, it’s difficult to see Egypt’s plutocratic military easily giving up all of its political and economic power to a rowdy civilian parliament, particularly when the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel are all quietly backing the military regime.

If the military cracks down on parliamentary forces, it risks driving the opposition underground and more violence. Egypt’s military may split, as younger, Nasserite-officers try to seize power, or face bloody urban guerilla war.

Washington would be wise to press its allies in the military to quickly cede power to a responsible civilian government.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Egypt 
Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.